One of the three schoolgirls who left east London to join Daesh has died in a Russian air strike in Syria, it has been reported.
Kadiza Sultana, 17, from Bethnal Green was 16-years-old when she fled to Syria with two of her friends, Shamima Begum and Amira Abase via Turkey, to join the so-called Islamic State, in February 2015.
Her family’s lawyer, Tasnime Akunjee, told BBC Newsnight that they heard a report of her death in Daesh’s de facto capital, Raqqa a few weeks ago.
But due to the nature of information filtering out of Syria, they had not been able to independently confirm it until now, the BBC reports.
He told the programme that the family were ‘devastated’ by the news and that it was a ‘great loss to us all’.
Akunjee said that that teenager had grown disillusioned with life under the terror group and wanted to return to the UK, but didn’t want to risk being captured and face a ‘brutal’ punishment from them.
The Bethnal Green Academy pupils had been studying for their GCSE’s at a school in Tower Hamlets, east London, where they were described as ‘straight-A students’.
Kadiza, with school friends Shamima and Amira, both 15 at the time, flew out from Gatwick to Turkey on February 17th, 2015 after telling their parents that they were going out for the day.
The teenage trio later entered Syria and were believed to be living in Raqqa, though Kadiza had reportedly expressed a desire to return.
The problem with that was the risk factors around leaving are quite terminal also, in that if ISIS [IS] were able to detect and capture you then their punishment is quite brutal for trying to leave.
Speaking to the BBC programme, he explained that when Kadiza was thinking of leaving, she saw an example of what could happen to those who want to leave the terror group.
In the week where she was thinking of these issues a young Austrian girl had been caught trying to leave ISIS territory and was by all reports beaten to death publicly, so – given that that was circulated in the region as well as outside – I think Kadiza took that as a bad omen and decided not to take the risk. I think she found out pretty quickly that the propaganda doesn’t match up with the reality.
A freelance journalist for ITV filmed phone call recordings between Kadiza and her sister Halima, who is in the UK.
During the call, Kadiza explained that the man she had married had been killed and that she ‘felt scared’ and wanted to return to the UK.
She added: “You know if something goes wrong, that’s it. You know the borders are closed right now, so how am I going to get out?”
The schoolgirls were among more than 800 Britons who are believed to have left the UK to join the so-called Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
Regardless of your opinion of IS, a family have still lost their daughter and our thoughts are with them during this time.